On this particular Tuesday, the Blackfish Writer’s Club hosted a new member. Cali wrote for the local newspaper. She had encouraged the group to spend their Tuesday nights together doing writing sprints. She settled herself with her laptop to try to make the girls volleyball awards-banquet a story worthy of print.
The writers sat hunched over their laptops in various stages of writing or fidgeting. Timmy’s fingers flew as he copied out a series of bread recipes for his latest project, a cookbook on Northwest Cuisine. Enid moaned, “I can’t write. This is all crap.” She chewed her non-existent nails while Larkin muttered something about discipline.
Carl snapped, “Will you two be quiet?” Alien cat/people toyed with their human dinners in his head. Hannah gazed into the middle distance enjoying the relative quiet, and Jane swayed back and forth in her chair trying to capture her poetic muse.
Five minutes into the first sprint, a local student, Andrew, tiptoed into the room and whispered in Timmy’s ear.
Timmy scowled and asked, “Why didn’t anybody call the cops?”
“They aren’t doing anything wrong, just singing and dancing, but they look really weird. Pastor Maude said we should tell you, because she didn’t know what they were.”
All the writers stopped and stared at Andrew. Enid demanded, “What do you mean weird, and who are they?”
“I don’t know who they are. That’s why I came to get Timmy.” Andrew wailed in tones of adolescent angst. “They’re…they…um…they glow sort of like.” Andrew ducked his head and mumbled the last of this sentence.
Timmy shoved himself to his feet. “Sounds like some of your classmates playing a prank, but if the pastor is concerned enough to send for me, I better check this out.”
Smelling a news story, Cali leapt to her feet. “The rest of us will come too. Kids on drugs can be belligerent.”
Enid stood and pulled on her sweater. “Might as well. Every word I write is crap.”
Everybody else followed muttering among them selves. As soon as the huddle of writers left the restaurant, they heard the singing and saw a faint glow near the woods behind the playfield at the Methodist church.
They joined the small group of people in the church parking lot. In hushed voices they discussed what to do. Finally, Timmy declared, “This is ridiculous. It’s probably just a group of kids practicing for a play or something. I’ll go check.” He strode off in the direction of the dancers near the woods.
Before Timmy had taken ten strides, the glowing dancers leaped into the air and disappeared. Timmy stopped mid-stride and turned with his mouth agape. Before he could speak, the music started again. It floated on the evening air from the low-income apartments behind Timmy’s. The huddle of people started to follow the sound.
As soon as they saw the glow of the dancers again, the dancers leaped into the air and vanished. Enid sighed. Timmy swore. The pastor started muttering a prayer under her breath. Finally, Timmy found his voice. “I wonder what that was?”
For an answer, the singing resumed somewhere near the Catholic Church. This time the group of onlookers set out at a brisk pace to get a better look at the phenomenon. They found the now familiar glow near the shrubbery at the far end of the Catholic parking lot.
Her companions heard Enid whispering something about faeries, as they tried to silently creep up on the dancers. Enid slid behind a bush, but Larkin the local English teacher strode forward with both arms outstretched toward the dancers. When Larkin stepped onto the gravel of the parking lot, the dancers again leaped into the air and disappeared.
Larkin brushed at his coat sleeves as if they had gotten dusty. “I know what is happening. Those who know about these things have suspected this for a long time. The government has set up large magnetic plasma disrupters at strategic locations around the globe. They can target any place where they want to control the people or destroy whole buildings. This is really how they brought down the World Trade Center. When one of us enters into the magnetic field, we disturb the field. The government can detect our presence and shut down their plasma canons if they want. This is their latest weapon to control or destroy the masses. What we are seeing is a very low level beam. Their reactor must be at the submarine base.” Larkin’s tone radiated authority.
Timmy suddenly succumbed to a coughing fit and the pastor told him to hush. “I hear it again.”
Enid ventured in an uncertain voice. “I don’t think that is due to anything the government has. I think there is something about the beauty of Blackfish that has attracted the faery folk. This is exactly like what others have reported from Ireland and other places that have a strong cultural recognition of supernatural creatures such as faeries.”
“That’s as good an idea as Larkin’s plasma thingy.” Carl the science fiction writer admitted. “I’d guess something more to do with solar flares and electro magnetic waves.”
The small group continued to guess at what they saw as they picked their way through the dark toward the center of town. When they heard the singing again, it appeared to come from the far side of the main intersection. “They are on the far side of the field of scotch broom.” Enid whispered.
“This is very characteristic of the way a magnetic field would behave. We hear music because of the magnetic vibrations. I’m guessing that the appearance of human-like figures is just a trick of our perception. We see wavering light, which is something similar to lightening from the magnetic field. Our brains interpret this light as human forms.” Carl informed his companions with an air of certainty.
Enid argued. “You may be somewhat right about the magnetic fields. They have been known to create thin spots between overlapping universes. Areas known for having many thin spots are also the areas where most of our information about the faerie folk has come from. The sounds and images are real. We are seeing into another universe.” Enid began to sound quite certain in her beliefs.
Larkin sneered, “I can’t believe you people. I’ve been warning you and warning you that the government has these secret programs to control us and you can’t even believe it when you see it.”
Cali muttered, “Damnit, I left my camera in the car.”
Enid informed her, “Your camera can’t capture pictures of faeries.”
“Do you have a cell phone with you?” Timmy asked.
“Oh how silly of me. I forget about my phone.” Cali fished through her purse.
Once the lights at the main intersection in Blackfish were behind them, the small group of seekers could see the familiar greenish blue glow of the dancers. “Hide behind the scotch broom, and we will be able to sneak up on them.” Enid hissed.
“I think if we stay on the side walk along this edge of the lot, we will be able to get closer to the vortex without disturbing the magnetic field.” Carl had lowered his voice to a commanding whisper.
Carl and Enid let their party along the sidewalk with Larkin warning, “If you feel tingling on your extremities that means they have you in a beam and will try to control you. They may be trying to get us to kill each other, so watch each other carefully.”
When Enid motioned for them to stay low, they all bent over and continued to scuttle along the sidewalk.
“Yes, keep yourself small and you will be less likely to disturb the magnetic field.” Carl whispered.
Cali did stand when she found a small willow tall enough to hide her body. She snapped several pictures of the dancers with her cell phone. Timmy coughed again and the dancers leapt into the air and vanished.
“Sorry everybody. I think the change in magnetic field tickles my throat.” Timmy choked.
Carl nodded, “Most likely.”
Andrew drew attention to himself by turning in a circle “Look at the pattern the appearances are making. Is it going to be a circle?”
“It should be random.” Carl answered.
“No. Nothing in the universe is random. It all has to do with how energy acts within its environment.” Andrew argued.
“What I meant was that the pattern will appear random to us because we don’t know all the variables that cause the phenomenon.”
Whatever the variables might have been that caused the phenomenon, they changed and despite standing in the cold and dark for another twenty minutes the small group didn’t see or hear anything else. Finally, the writers returned to their meeting and the students and pastor went on their ways with promises to call if they saw the lights again.
Once inside, the writers set to work at their computers. Enid announced, “I’m going to give up Regency Romances. I think I’m called to write Fantasy. It’s more popular now.” She set to work. The room fell silent except for occasional humming and the light tapping of fingers on computer keys as the scribes worked in a silent fever of writing.
Carl puckered his brow as he stared closely at his computer screen. Cali poked at her phone, trying to transfer stubborn photos to her computer. Jane wrapped her sweater and scarves more tightly around her body as she swayed and nodded while writing away. Larkin feverously pounded the keyboard, entering all he’d seen into his notes for his book on the events leading up to World War III.
After a half hour of good solid work, Timmy gathered up the recipe cards he was copying from and slipped out into the restaurant. He took a handful of five-dollar bills out of the till. He grinned as he approached three tables of youth at the back of the restaurant. “I hope Renee gave you enough to eat. Thanks for your help. I got more writing done tonight than I have in a month despite our little field trip.”
The students thanked Timmy for the food as they accepted the five dollars he handed each of them. They giggled and danced a few steps as they left the restaurant never again to be faeries, or space aliens, or a government plot.